1423 california Oh man. I just returned from California a week ago, and I'm so pooped!  My trip was non-stop working, and I barely had time to spend with anyone.  In the future I know not to pack in so many shoots.

It'd only been three and a half months since I lived in California, but bits of my return already felt so foreign to me.  I was immediately tired by the busyness of my old life and the long rides to everything.  I felt like such a stranger in a place I called home just a few months ago.  But it was such a good trip nonetheless.  I loved going back to visit family, especially my new little niece.  But ultimately I was on a mission to eat!!! And eat I did!!

Here are some of the yummy things I ate:

Shabu Shabu. I've been craving shabu shabu.  It's essentially Japanese hot pot, where there's a pot of soup/water that you cook your raw yummies (veggies, meats, noodles…etc.) in.  I thought I'd go to my normal go-to in San Ramon, so then I could follow it up with Snowflake (shaved iced). But Christina suggested a really good shabu shabu place after our styled shoot, so I thought "Why not?"  We went to Nabe in the Inner Richmond in San Francisco, and Christina liked it because at the end of our meal, they serve conji (or jook as I call it) from the leftover soup.  The fixins were fresh and everything we ate was delicious.  We started with kimchi tofu, and I ended up ordering the Shabu Shabu platter with steak in spicy miso.  We followed that up with the jook, which was really, really good.  Then finished up with a mochi cake (like tei or nin go in Chinese food) and red bean ice cream.  Everything was relatively cheap, considering how expensive shabu shabu normally is and how much food we had.  I'd definitely recommend this. Definitely.

Boba. How could I go back to the bay area and not have boba, especially Boba Guys??!! My first full day in California I went to get Boba Guys.  I always get the Lychee Green Tea slow milk tea with boba.  I was tempted to buy two because they don't sell any large sizes, but I resisted.  Like I've said before, Boba Guys is my absolutely favorite boba place.  I went to their shop downtown on Stockton, which I hear makes better boba.  But who knows? A few days later I went to the chain, Quickly, to get my Almond Snow with boba.  It doesn't compare to some of my favorite boba places, but I still love it.  I, of course, got a large.  Then to round off my boba cravings I went to my second favorite boba place, Tea Era.  Located in the Cupertino area, I asked/convinced/begged Alison to take me there when my Dad & visited them.  I've realized my favorite is the peach milk tea with almond pudding, lychee jelly and boba.  Again, I ordered a large.  It was sooooo good.

Sushi. Birmingham does have sushi, but there's not a lot of fresh sushi options nor affordable prices…. and the servings are really small to further disappoint me.  So my dear sister, Meredith, took me to our local sushi restaurant, Rock n Roll Sushi.  We ate the A's roll (my favorite), the Hamachi Lover (another one of my favorites) and Kevin's Rock and Roll. It was soooo good.  I was so happy after I ate this.

Vietnamese Food. I'm not sure the restaurant we ate at or what I exactly ate, but it was delicious.  I had a Bun dish, which is not actually a "bun" but a cold noodle dish with vegetables, meats and fish sauce.  There were several mystery meats in my bun, but it was all yummy.

Sashimi and Rice. Like I mentioned about the sushi, there's not much fresh sashimi/sushi in Birmingham.  So while I was in the city shooting, I snuck into Bamboo and had a quick sashimi and rice bowl.  This is one of my go-to places to eat when I'm running around downtown San Francisco.

Hawaiian Food. Lance and I bought my family Hawaiian food the night before we left California.  We had a feast!! My sister, Terrysue, asked what I wanted to eat for our birthday celebrations, and I picked hawaiian food.  I can't find hawaiian food anywhere here, so eating it in California was such a luxury.  Please wait a sec while I drool.

So I'm curious… if you moved out of state, like me, which foods and restaurants would you crave from California?!


Santa Cruz. December 29, 2014 | Fuji x100s


California to Alabama

1421 big sur These past three and a half months flew by. I can't believe how little I blogged while so many exciting things happened in my life.  I got engaged and wedding planning took up most of my time.  Then the best thing happened when Lance and I got married.  Then shortly after (i.e. five days later), I moved to Birmingham.  Now here I am, happy as a clam! I want to share all these wonderful moments on my blog, but it'll have to be out of order.  I want to share my transition to Birmingham first because it's been weighing heavily on my heart these past few months.

When I moved to Birmingham, I knew needed to adjust to a new culture, but I wasn’t too worried. I knew my diverse group of friends, including some very awesome southerners, and traveling would help me settle in. Not to mention that I had Lance; he is a great sort of interpreter of southern culture. While I occasionally slip up and refer to California as home, I do whole-heartedly feel at home here.

So when people can’t believe I’m already acclimated it makes me laugh. In many aspects of life, Alabama is vastly different from California. I'm not blind to that. Sometimes I really feel the depth of racial ignorance in people here. Sometimes I wish Asian foods weren’t so expensive. Sometimes I wish I could be surrounded by hipster people. Sometimes I get excited when I see minorities. Those are all to be expected. But what I’m saying is that I’m not falling apart. I’m not shell-shocked. I’m not overwhelmed. This wasn't a culture-shock. For some reason I noticed people can't accept that I'm settled in and love my life here.  They'll add in "well, you'll see" or "not yet", as if they're waiting for me to fall apart because of some secret awfulness in Birmingham that I haven't discovered yet.  But I'd like to tell them I know what I lost when I left California, but I also know what I gained by living here.

When you switch your focus from what’s missing to what’s present, it really can tip the scale to how you adjust to any given situation. And that’s what my mindset is here. Instead of wallowing in these changes and the differences between California and Alabama, I embrace it. I miss my family, but I relish in seeing pictures of them and talking to them on the phone. I miss the ocean, but I love all the hiking out here. There’s so much about Birmingham that I already love. I love how there’s trees everywhere. I’m starting to find my own little tribe of likeminded friends. And I’m even finding coffee shops that I absolutely love. And really, when you’ve been to places like Haiti or China, you realize that California and Alabama aren’t that different.

So to end my little PSA…. I love Birmingham and am very happy to be living life here with Lance. Life is great.


Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. December 30, 2014 | Fuji x100s

the coastal highway. the long road home.

"I would wear a full-length cape if I could get away with it - I do love a good swirl in a fog. " Martin Freeman

These are few left over pictures from my wonderful photo trip to Mendocino County with my girlfriends.  One thing I forget I always love about the Bay Area is the fog.  It's beautiful.  It's poetic.  It's haunting.  It's just simply one of my favorite things about the Bay Area.

I will always remember the smell of fog in the morning in the fall when I was young.  Fond memories, indeed.

Gualala Point County Park | a hike through the woods

“Look deep into nature,and then you will understand everything better.” Albert Einstein

Gualala Point County Park

We ventured out of our cozy little town to explore the coastal highway. Through windy roads and corridors of towering trees the road led us to Gualala Point County Park.  While it poured south in the Bay Area, we enjoyed the glowing sun and clear skies on this day.  A trail brought us in and out of the forest and along the coast where we listened to the roaring tide, walking along the cliff's edge.  Along our hike we found the most gorgeous spots and hideaways and lookouts.  Pictures can't do this trail justice.  We of course had impromptu shoots along the way.  The light was gorgeous on this day.

I love the charm of the California coast.  While it's sandy and warm down south, the further north you go the more charming it gets, I think.  We exchange that warmth and those beaches for echoing surf and high, imposing cliffs lined with slender, umbrella-like trees.  I much prefer to wear a coat and enjoy fog.

.  .  .  .  .

As I looked through the pictures I realize most of my pictures of our hike are of Kim.  I suppose she was just always in front of me.

Point Arena | that seaside town.

The other weekend three girlfriends and I took a long trip up the California coast to a cute little town called Point Arena. If you follow me on instagram, you'd see how charming the whole area was.  A drive that should have only taken 3.5 hours but our gps routed to this small road, Fish Hook Road, which someone later told us was not a road at all.   Most of the road was unpaved, and let me tell you this, I was miserable in the back seat with car sickness.  The road seemed to go on forever through the mountains as we drove in pitch black darkness and rain.  When we finally made it to our cabin, the lady at registration told us that it was a good thing we took Fish Hook Road because the main road was closed due to rain.  Our little detour took us about two to three extra hours of driving, but had we kept on the main road we would have reached a dead end, had to turn back around and still taken Fish Hook Road.  And that definitely would have cost us at least three more additional hours.  It was totally a blessing that we took that crazy, windy Fish Hook Road. The next day we took a walk around the Point Arena Lighthouse, which are the pictures shown below.  I was in awe of how beautiful it was.  I think fog makes everything more beautiful.  While walking around the cliff, we even saw a few seals (or maybe they were sea lions) swimming around.  It was really beautiful, and I had so much fun.